Back from a weekend in the distant North - (only the second time that I have ever ventured past Leeds). We spent our time wandering around the area close to Barnard Castle which all in all seemed a nice little place.
Best part of our trip though had to be the simply mind-bogglingly awful hotel that we stayed in on Saturday night. The photo above doesn't begin to come close to capturing the feeling as we turned down the blasted yew covered approach in the driving rain close to midnight, somewhere in the remote hills outside Richmond. Passing through the arch of a ruined abbey, the glowering pile hove into view, surrounded by mist and mostly plunged in darkness. There were no other guests. We sat laughing in the car for a while before running through the rain to be greeted at the door by a scruffy old man who booked us in with hardly a word.
The staircase was crowded with dusty black stags heads, and a murky painting of a pack of wolves savaging a deer covered in blood. By this stage we were in hysterics. It could not have been more spooky! As the only guests using one of the 30 or so rooms, we were given a upgraded suite at no extra cost, with a tiny dark four-poster bed. Luckily we experienced no ghostly visitations in the night, although I was very worried about my feet sticking out into the pitch-black room.
For breakfast we sat alone in the centre of a large echoing dining room and were served an appalling grey full english by an eastern european man/woman whose only words were 'tea?coffee?'. On check-out, the scruffy man yet again said almost nothing. How the hotel survives is beyond me, yet we drove away laughing and thinking that it was so bad, it was almost excellent.